Hiking Poles – Love or Loathe?

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Milford, Routeburn and Kepler Track

Used properly hiking poles can revolutionize your hiking experience. 

But, used in-efficiently, they can be a nuisance to you and your fellow track users and a general hassle.

Like any hiking equipment, the best use of hiking poles requires proper technique and an awareness of their disadvantages.

Hiking Poles on a Pack

Our thoughts – we love them!

Having walked the Fiordland Great Walks for years (after all, it is our backyard!), using hiking poles makes our experience on the track a much happier one! Here’s why:

  • They make all the difference to aging knees.
  • Having two anchors to steady yourself as you’re crossing streams and stepping on slippery rocks is very helpful!
  • Providing balance on the downhills means less bum-sliding!
  • You get into a rhythm. It makes our hike “happy” by putting you into a wee walking groove, with a skip in your step. 
  • Having your hands closer to the level of your heart can improve blood circulation and help stop your hands swelling (which is common for hiking).
  • If you’re a bit uneasy on your feet and tend to stumble (particularly on uneven surfaces), they’ll help keep you steady and balanced. Remember, you’ll be carrying a pack on your back, so your weight distribution will be out of wack.
  • Hiking poles have been used to rig up shelters in the past, so they are a handy addition to an emergency kit and lighter than carrying a tent for that purpose!

The Jury is out 

Some fellow pole users carry just one, but most people use two. Some hikers think they make no difference to a hike, and others swear by them.

Be considerate! 

One of the most common pet peeves is that poles take up more room on the track. So, if you are using them, be considerate and think about where they are when you stop for a break or pass someone.

When you stop, make sure they’re not lying on the track, creating a trip hazard in the way. And, when your passing someone, keep them tight to you and not flailing around. If you’re storing them or attaching them to your pack, ensure they are condensed with the pointy end at the bottom to avoid any close calls with eyeballs!

We include poles in our inclusive track packages, and it’s totally up to you whether you choose to use them. We also hire them as an add-on to our Great Walk Gear Hire.

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